Ex Gov. Paterson: NY Should Revisit ‘Three Strikes’ Law

Gov. David Paterson
Gov. David Paterson (Flickr/Long Island Business News)

December 7, 2022

In an unexpected move, former New York Governor David Paterson said that he had changed his mind regarding the “three strikes” law and recommended that it be brought back to fight the crime epidemic plaguing the city. 

Paterson reportedly admitted to changing his mind on this issue, telling John Catsimatidis during “Cats Roundtable” on WABC-770, that so many repeat offenders are released after committing terrible crimes according to The New York Post

“They then commit another crime,” he added.

The three strikes law” was instituted by his Republican predecessor Gov. George Pataki in the 1990s, which called for third-time violent-felony offenders to face a minimum prison term of 15 years to life, a sentence often far beyond the previous normal maximum.

New York previously employed a habitual felon statute since 1797. In 1926, New York passed a law requiring a life sentence for a fourth felony conviction.

Paterson said that the policy “seemed to work for a while, but it’s not on the books anymore,” suggesting that “we might want to take another look at that, particularly in this particular period.” 

This law was later deemed unconstitutional four years after Pataki left office. In the case of Besser vs Walsh, the court reportedly argued that the statute violated the Sixth Amendment, which guarantees every citizen  a trial by his peers.

The case included Vance Morris, who violated a protection order and killed his girlfriend. Three other criminals also challenged this law. The unanimous decision meant the four criminals would see their sentences reduced. 

In addition Paterson questioned some of the “criminal justice reforms” which have been implemented in NY since he was in office, saying that the reforms disallow judges taking into account the “dangerousness of a defendant.” 

During the days when Rudy Giuliani and Pataki were in office, violent crime was significantly down. Governor Hochul proposed changes to the bail reform laws which were introduced in the year 2020, according to a previous report in American Pigeon.


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